Car sale raises millions for charity

Two of the biggest gearhead events in the world took place in the past two weeks and I’ve promised to give you the run down on both of them. So, let’s get this party started!

Each year the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car auction is held in the huge WestWorld Event Complex. Tents covering more than two miles of the Arizona desert become a very temporary home to the wildest and most beautiful automobiles on the planet. Between Jan. 14-22, a total of 1,719 vehicles crossed the auction block, with a 99.5 per cent sell-through rate at a cost of more than $100 million in total sales.

This year’s event was attended by more than 320,000 people. More than 1,800 pieces of automobilia were also sold for more than $2.5 million. This included auto-related art, signs and collectible items which brought the total sales to more than $102 million.

Famous celebrities bring their cars to sell here. This year Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Justin Bieber, boxing champ Floyd Mayweather, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and others either sold cars from their collections or used them to raise money for charities. This year $3,325,000 was raised through the sale of eight special vehicles for charity. Eighty world records for sales prices were also set this year. If you have a vehicle that is included in this auction you are among a privileged few.

Two cars topped the million-dollar mark, with an Aston Martin DB5 being the top sale at $1,485,000. Second through fifth were:

2. A 1960 model Chevrolet Engineering Research Vehicle, or CERV 1as it was called, sold for $1,320,000.  This car was an Indy style racing car from the GM Museum.

3. A 1930 Duesenberg J Dual-cowl Phaeton sold for $880,000.

4. A 2005 Porsche Carrera GT went for $616,000.

5. A 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 was purchased for $445,000.

Justin Bieber’s custom 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia just missed the top five at $434,500 in sixth. Seventh through 10th included, in order, Mickey Thompson’s personal 1963 Corvette 327/360 hp Split-Window Fuelie coupe; a 1969 Ford Mustang Boss 429; a 1930 Rolls-Royce Roadster; and, tying for 10th, a 2015 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta and a 1964 Corvette LT1. All of these cars sold for more than $300,000 each!

Celebrity provenance definitely adds to the value. Burt Reynolds sold his personal re-creation of the 1980 Trans Am from “Smokey and the Bandit II” for $275,000.

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This past weekend, the 55th running of the historic Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race took place over the twists and high-banked turns of Daytona’s 3.56-mile road course. This race features four classes of IMSA road race cars racing together for 24 grueling hours.

The race runs rain or shine, and this year’s event was drenched in rain from the eighth hour throughout most of the night. Cold temps and rain kept the speeds down but it was still a great race.

Teams use multiple drivers who drive in shifts, or stints, as they are called. There are five winners crowned at the end of the event, one overall winner and four class champions. Points are awarded in all four divisions, also. This is the first and biggest IMSA event of their regular season.

Amazingly, 41 of the 55 total starters were still running at the finish. I’ll start my run down with the slowest division and work my way to the overall champion.

First up is the Prototype Challenge cars. These are Mazda-powered custom-built cars that serve as a development series to prepare drivers for the faster groups later in their careers. This year’s class winning team showed a lot of patience and maturity, completing 638 laps and finishing 20 laps ahead of second place. The Performance Tech Motorsports team with drivers Brent O’Neal, James French, Patricio O’Ward, Kyle Masson and Nick Buelle had a perfect race.

The next class is a very popular one because it features cars like Porsches and Audis. Actually nine different manufacturers were represented in this class. This class is called GT Daytona. This year’s winner was celebrating their 10th anniversary competing at Daytona. The Porsche Carrera of Allegra Motorsports defeated team Audi and Ferrari. The Drivers were Michael Christensen, Daniel Morad, brothers Carlos and Michael Decasade and Jeff Lesard.

The third class is also very popular with the manufacturers and fans. This class features world-class super cars. The GT LeMans class was won by the same team that took the overall victory at the 24 hours of LeMans in its debut in France last year. NASCAR’s Chip Ganassi partnered with Ford Motorsports to develop a new Ford GT supercar team. Four of these cars were entered and led most of the event in this class. At the end, the Ford GT driven by Indy car standout Sebastien Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Muller won by 6 seconds over a Porsche and Ferrari who literally battled right up to the checkered flag. Can we shout USA, USA!

Now for the fastest group, the Prototype class. These cars are designed with the latest engineering and technology and are powered by various power train combinations. This year’s winning team completed 659 laps and more than 2,300 miles in 24 hours. The amazing part to me is that after all that racing they only won by .671 seconds over their teammates.

The team of Wayne Taylor Racing drove their Cadillac-powered car to the overall and class victory. The drivers were Max Angelelli, brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor and NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon. Ricky drove his heart out for his father and his team and made a bold pass in the closing laps, bumping into their fellow Cadillac team car. IMSA officials called it good hard racing and let the pass stand.

I just find it hard to believe that these guys can race as hard as they do for 24 hours and the victories are decided by feet and fractions of a second. Hats off to all the teams that prepare so well to make this possible.

That’s it for this week. Those high-banked turns of Daytona are just a few short weeks away and I can’t wait, because at the end of the straight there is another left turn!

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